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the process of the gradual destruction or diminution of something, can be mechanical, chemical or both

chemical weathering

rocks react with air and water, includes mineral dissolution, hydrolysis, and oxidation


rocks react with oxygen, metals such as iron become iron oxides or rust


combined chemical & mechanical weathering, plutons that were under a lot of pressure are suddenly exposed & leaving the rock under no pressure at all

B Horizon

soil layer containing clay minerals & other things that accumulate from weathered material


soil type in tropical / equatorial regions where intense weathering has stripped the soil of everything except iron & aluminum

soil salinization

affects about 25% of croplands, occurs when we irrigate lands that weren't meant for farming, then the water evaporates & leaves Na, Ca, and Mg in soil


lateral spread of water saturated ground


soil at or below 0 degrees Celsius for at least 2 consecutive years, water freezes & thaws


movement of coherent mass or blocks alog a discrete surface or plain


a fluid or hardened stream of avalanche of mud


slow, down slope movement of clayey soil, usually <1 cm/yr


formed by dissolution of limestone or other soluble rock


circular depression usually formed by roof collapse


sinking, downward settling of the earth's surface


is a ring-shaped coral reef including a coral rim that encircles a lagoon partially or completely. There may be coral islands/cays on the coral rim

Spring Tide

The exceptionally high and low tides that occur at the time of the new moon or the full moon when the sun, moon, and earth are approximately aligned

Neap Tide

A tide that occurs when the difference between high and low tide is least; the lowest level of high tide, - - comes twice a month, in the first and third quarters of the moon

Gulf Stream

is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean

Longshore Current

consists of the transportation of sediments (clay, silt, sand and shingle) along a coast at an angle to the shoreline, which is dependent on prevailing wind direction, swash and backwash


is a partly enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea

El Nino

is a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that periodically develops off the western coast of South America and can cause climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean


is the lowest portion of Earth's atmosphere. It contains approximately 80% of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of its water vapour and aerosols


is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. It is stratified in temperature, with warmer layers higher up and cooler layers farther down

acid precipitation

is a rain that possesses elevated levels of hydrogen ions (low pH). It can have harmful effects on plants, aquatic animals and infrastructure

pH scale

is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Pure water has a pH very close to 7


a portion of the stratosphere with a higher concentration of ozone, (from two to eight ppm) that is beneficial, preventing damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth's surface, to the benefit of both plants and animals

fly ash

is one of the residues generated in combustion, usually refers to ash produced during combustion of coal, was generally released into the atmosphere, but pollution control equipment mandated in recent decades now require that it be captured prior to release


are a group of chemical compounds derived from alkanes containing one or more halogens, Subsequent to the widespread use in commerce, many halocarbons have also been shown to be serious pollutants and toxins

non-point source pollution

originates from a large area or multiple places, ex: agricultural area or city

point source pollution

can be traced to a single origin, ex: pipe or factory

bed load

portion of a stream's load that is transported on or immediately above the stream bed

dissolved load

ions suspended in water, portion of a stream's sediment load carried in solution


proportion of the volume of a material that consists of open spaces, indicates amount of water material can hold


ability to transmit fluid, measure of speed at which fluid can pass through a porous material

artesian well or spring

water rises without pumping (under pressure)


type of hot spring that intermittently erupts hot water and steam

biodegradable pollutant

consumed and destroyed by organisms in soil or water, ex: sewage or fertilizers


treatment of a contaminated substance to remove or decompose a pollutant

water table

lies between the zone of aeration & zone of saturation


replenishment of an aquifer by the addition of water

wind shear

A change in wind direction and speed between slightly different altitudes, especially a sudden downdraft

tropical cyclone

is a rapidly-rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain


A severe tropical cyclone originating in the equatorial regions of the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea or eastern regions of the Pacific Ocean, traveling north, northwest, or northeast from its point of origin, and usually involving heavy rains


A tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans

storm surge

An unusual rise in sea level on a coast due to the action of high winds

feedback mechanism

is important in the understanding of global warming because - - may amplify or diminish the effect of each climate forcing, and so play an important part in determining the climate sensitivity and future climate state

greenhouse effect

The phenomenon whereby the earth's atmosphere traps solar radiation, caused by the presence in the atmosphere of gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane that allow incoming sunlight to pass through but absorb heat radiated back from the earth's surface

thermohaline circulation

any of the global circulatory currents (such as the Gulf Stream), that are driven by differences in temperature and salinity


is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river, where the river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, or reservoir. - are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river

oxbow lake

A crescent-shaped lake formed when a meander of a river or stream is cut off from the main channel

point bar

A ridge, formed from the accretion of sand or gravel, on the inside curve of a meander


Having waters rich in mineral and organic nutrients that promote a proliferation of plant life, especially algae, which reduces the dissolved oxygen content and often causes the extinction of other organisms. Used of a lake or pond


surface reflectivity, deals with water absorbing light while snow reflects it


- glaciers, can form anywhere as long as it is at a high enough altitude


- valley, formed when a glacier punches through an area


- valley, formed in connection with glacier movements, has a waterfall coming down off of it


is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion


an unsorted glacial sediment


rock debris transported by glaciers

Pleistocene Ice Age

lasts 2 million years, glaciers advance and retreat


refers to a change in the direction of the axis of a rotating object


area that receives less than 25cm of precipitation a year

Playa Lake

intermittently wet lake beds in the desert


is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain


is a hill of sand built either by wind or water flow


refer to (near-) horizontal units that are internally composed of inclined layers, deposition on the inclined surfaces of bedforms such as ripples and dunes, and indicates that the depositional environment contained a flowing medium (typically water or wind)


fine-rained wind-blown deposits of dust or silt


process of desert expansion

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